Uber Eat’s Exit from Southeast Asia Reveals the Fragility of Food Delivery Marketplaces

A commentary on how an over-reliance on marketplaces can prove to be dangerous.

It came as a surprise to many. After years of shaking up the ridesharing scene, and subsequently the food delivery scene in Southeast Asia, Uber has left the region with Grab acquiring its operations.

While consumers are spoilt for choice when it comes to food, Uber’s exit might have left many F&B owners in the lurch. Online ordering is fast becoming a norm, and with many brands looking to stay competitive by going online, this could prove to be a blow to their aspirations.

Image taken from The Straits Times

What are marketplaces?

When we think about food delivery services, a few brands come to mind – foodpanda, Deliveroo, and yes, Uber Eats.

If we’re looking for that quick fix to our grumbling stomachs, we’ve probably visited one of these platforms, entering our postal code before browsing through a myriad of F&B outlets that deliver to our location. We choose one, pop in a promotion code, and checkout while crossing our fingers hoping that our food will arrive ASAP to alleviate our crumbling hunger.

That’s essentially what marketplaces are. A platform which features F&B brands, allowing customers to choose their desired food and place an order for delivery.

What about F&B owners?

For F&B owners, it’s a chance for you to list your brand online. If the platform works out, it could be a potential stream of revenue.

But this is where it hits a snag. Pitting your restaurant against hundreds of others means that many factors are out of your control.

It means your brand will get drowned in the sea of choices. You will have limited opportunities to express your brand the way you want it, while your chances of discovery, on the other hand, will be dependant on the platform’s search algorithm.

Your online success will depend on the success of the platform as a whole. More traffic could potentially mean more sales, but if the platform does poorly, so will your business.

Image taken from Storyblocks.

Ultimately, Uber Eat’s recent exit reminds us of the most crucial factor – F&B owners do not own the platform. If the platform goes down, so will your online presence and any accompanying revenue streams.

The tug of war between the various marketplaces is here to stay, and only time will tell which platforms will eventually get eaten up.

Putting all your eggs in one basket, especially in one that makes you over-reliant on factors that are out of your control, can lead to a perilous situation for your business.

Standing on your own feet

While marketplaces are definitely still an option for F&B owners, it should never be considered as the primary channel of growth or the sole solution in going online.

Marketplaces should be treated as supporting channels that ultimately lead to your restaurant’s own ordering platform, one where you can express your brand, as well as dictate operational matters to your own capability or benefit.

These supporting channels should be supplemented with your brand’s own marketing efforts to make your name known in the online space. This way if one channel fails, there will always be another channel to back it up.

The best part about this? You only need to acquire the customer once. No more paying hefty 30% commissions for every single order from a loyal customer.

Ultimately F&B owners would want to be able to stand on their own feet, and not be reliant on a platform that they can’t control. In a fast-changing world, it’s important to remain flexible while maintaining control of your business’s future.

Achieve that, or you might get eaten up as well.

Who is Oddle?

Serving over 2,000 brands in 7 countries, Oddle is a leading white-labeled, e-commerce platform that democratizes online ordering for F&B owners. Oddle’s plug-and-play solution empowers restaurants to build their online presence while growing their delivery and takeaway sales.

With a vision to create a sustainable ecosystem for the F&B industry, Oddle provides a cost-effective solution for restaurants to grow, supporting them in marketing and logistics too.

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